PHOTOGRAPHY SURVEYS | COLLECTIONS

PUBLISHER
HATJE CANTZ

BOOK FORMAT
Paperback, 7.75 x 9.75 in. / 128 pgs / 160 color.

PUBLISHING STATUS
PUB DATE
Active

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D.A.P. EXCLUSIVE
CATALOG: FALL 2013 p. 96   

PRODUCT DETAILS
ISBN 9783775736206 TRADE
LIST PRICE: $30.00 CDN $35.00

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In stock

  

HATJE CANTZ

Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives

Published by Hatje Cantz
Text by Simon Menner.

Featured image is reproduced from <I>Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives</I>.Almost 300,000 people worked for the STASI, the East German secret police--per capita, far more than are or were employed by agencies such as the CIA or the Soviet Union’s KGB. More than 50 years after the Berlin Wall was erected, German photographer Simon Menner (born 1978) unearthed an extraordinary cache of photographs in the STASI archives that document the agency’s surveillance work. These state-approved photographs show officers and employees posing in professional uniforms, wearing unconvincing fake beards and moustaches, or signaling to each other with their hands. Once top secret, and now preposterous, these images are both comical and sinister. Until now, nobody has attempted a visual study of the activities of the State Security. For Simon Menner, the undertaking is more suited to artists and philosophers than to historians.

Featured image is reproduced from Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives.

PRAISE AND REVIEWS

Bookforum

Albert Mobilio

Berlin-based artist Simon Menner spent two years researching the files of the Federal Commisioner for the Stasi Archives of the former GDR to unearth the photographs he has gathered for this dark but unavoidably comic volume. Menner's collection focuses on images pulled from manuals dealing with espionage tradecraft, as well as actuals photos from surveillance operations.

The New York Times Book Review

Luc Sante

The book might be a primer on the banality of evil.

Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives

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FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG

CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 12/17/2013

Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives

Best of 2013: Top Secret: Images from the Stasi ArchivesFeatured photograph, taken during a seminar in which Stasi personnel were taught how to don different disguises, is reproduced from Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives, chosen by Luc Sante for The New York Times Book Review's Holiday Books roundup. Sante writes, "The gap between image and underlying reality can be queasily farcical, as demonstrated in Simon Menner's Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives. The Stasi ruined innumerable lives, hounded people to their deaths, insinuated pervasive distrust among family members, co-workers, friends—but the photographs could easily persuade you that they were an assortment of bumbling amateurs whose training involved viewing episodes of the '60s TV comedy Get Smart! From demonstrations of disguises and secret hand signs to surveillance pictures of mailboxes to Polaroids taken during house searches documenting Western sympathies based on, say, a wall of magazine shots of Madonna in a teenager's bedroom, it is hard to believe that these pictures were actually produced by one of the world's most feared secret police forces and not by a college humor magazine. Every image is sourced, however, by its index number in the Stasi files. And pieced-together photos—of uniformly impeccable banality—that had been torn up in the last days of the G.D.R. suggest that there may be more here than meets the eye. The book might be a primer on the banality of evil." continue to blog


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